ISLAMABAD - Ruling out any possible alliance with the Pakistan People’s Party for the election of the chairman and the deputy chairman of Senate, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Friday announced that his party would neither vote for the PPP nor the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

“There is a consensus within the party that its senators will neither vote for the nominees of the PPP nor the PML-N,” Khan said while addressing a press conference after chairing a party’s core group meeting.

He said that the core committee unanimously decided in favour of giving the chairmanship of Senate to Balochistan and the deputy chairman must be made from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He said that the two major parties, the PML-N and PPP, should sacrifice for the deprived areas like Balochistan and FATA.

The announcement is a complete U-turn from an earlier decision of offering the votes of his PTI senators to the independent group of Balochistan senators led by Chief Minister Balochistan.

Earlier on Thursday, Khan in his meeting with Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo had offered him votes of all his party senators to negotiate with the PPP and other parties for the slot of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate. As there were chances that the PPP could accept the slot of deputy chairman and give the slot of chairman to Balochistan, Khan ’s announcement might have left the Balochistan senators red-faced.

Khan went on to say that “shaking hands with PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and his likes would be tantamount to contradicting party’s 22 years long struggle against corruption”.

 “Our fight is not against an individual but about the menace of corruption that is eroding our political and social structure. The PTI’s 22 years long struggle against this menace does not allow us to shake hands with Zardari,” he said when asked to comment on Zardari’s recent statement that his party’s alliance with the PTI for the Senate chairman election could not be ruled out, as, according to him, anything was possible in politics.

Khan also suggested the senators-elect from FATA and Balochistan to resist any pressure exerted by the PPP in this regard and insist on their own candidates for the Senate. He also said that the senior PTI leadership was in close contact with FATA and Balochistan senators-elect.

Khan said the people of FATA had rendered tremendous sacrifices and Balochistan and FATA were feeling deprived for many years. “The chairman Senate should be from Balochistan while the deputy chairman be elected from FATA so that their sacrifices should be acknowledged,” he said.

By giving FATA and Balochistan more representation, he said, “we can address the sense of deprivation”. “We must strengthen federation, Senate is a representative body of the federation,” the PTI chief said.

In a related development, senior PTI leaders including Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jehangir Khan Tareen held separate meetings with independent senators-elect from FATA and Balochistan to discuss the upcoming Senate elections.

In the meetings, a consensus emerged that the smaller parties in the Senate including the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan and the Jamaat-e-Islami would be contacted to make an alliance for the election of the Senate chairman.

 

IMRAN MUKHTAR